Twitter Now Showing You Even More Tweets from People You Don’t Follow
Your personal Twitter timeline isn’t so personal anymore.
Since its humble beginnings in 2006, Twitter’s timeline has shown a stream of 140-character messages from only the people you’ve chosen to follow (and, starting in 2010, promoted tweets from advertisers). Earlier this week, the social network gave itself permission to display tweets it thinks you want to see — regardless of whether you actually asked to see them.
On Wednesday morning the social media company updated its help page — titled “What’s a Twitter timeline?” — to include a new section, first spotted by Quartz. Your feed now includes tweets from everyone you follow, retweets from those people, the occasional advertisement, and something new:
“Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.”
So far, this policy change has bubbled up into people’s feeds only in the form of tweets that people you follow have marked as favorites. This has raised concerns among some Twitter members who used the fave feature as a way to bookmark something, assuming it was semi-private.
This new policy is the latest in a series of changes over the past year largely focused on making Twitter friendlier to new members. Twitter has changed its design to include larger text and photos, made the profile pictures and popular tweets on individual pages easier to see, added a mute feature, and created the ability to include emoji and multiple photos in one tweet. This dramatic makeover, however, is also rapidly erasing the differences between Twitter and its primary competitor: Facebook.
Any longtime social media user can see the writing on the wall: Twitter’s latest policy change appears to be a step toward transforming your timeline into a news feed like the one provided by Mark Zuckerberg’s behemoth social media company. In other words, instead of showing you every single post from the people you follow, Twitter’s feed could morph into a list of select messages curated by a vaguely defined algorithm you can’t control.